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Classic documentary history of the exploitation of the resources of the Mississippi River Valley and the work being done to rehabilitate and reclaim the area. Director and writer: Pare Lorentz. Narrator: Thomas Chalmers. Photography: Willard Van Dyke, Stacey Woodard and Floyd Crosby. Editor: Leo Zochling. Music: Virgil Thomson.
This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Producer: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Resettlement Administration
Sponsor: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Resettlement Administration
Audio/Visual: Sd, B&W
Keywords: New Deal: Conservation; Rivers: Mississippi; Infrastructure
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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Subject: I think part one is here
I think this is part I
Erik Smith -
Subject: A classic and notable documentary
This was one of the documentaries I remember studying in college as an early masterpiece of the form. Pare Lorenz, the filmmaker, became something of a celebrity with this film and his equally renowned "The Plow that Broke the Plains." Utilizing impressionistic photography and poetic narration, these two documentaries heightened awareness about the power of film. These are films a thousand times more stylized than the typical History Channel documentary of today. The fact that the federal government financed these two films is to me astonishing -- especially when you consider that "The Plow That Broke the Plains" is really an indictment of the attitudes that led to the dust bowl. It shows how different the public outlook was in the thirties, when the country was on the ropes and self-examination seemed more acceptable. And maybe these remarkable films were a little easier to make in the thirties than they would be today. When an art form is in its infancy, it's easier to get away with something that has never been done before.
These two movies are really must-sees for anyone interested in American propaganda movies of World War II. Once you see these two films, you realize that Frank Capra's masterful Prelude to War series, for instance, had a few antecedents.
Subject: Environmental problems featured
Marvelous movie. Reflects the employment of skilled writers and artists by the New Deal during the 1930's. Wonderful photos, grand background music and blank verse naration. The word play with the names of rivers and towns continues in this half. Presents environmental problems of the Mississippi valley in historical context. Only the then popular solution of multiple dams built by government under the Tennessee Valley Authority rings false today. The pictures of poor southern sharecroppers are especially moving and recall Walker Evans' photos in Phillip Agee's "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men". A noted book also from the 30's.
Subject: Rolling (too long) down the river
Very good doucmentary about the problem a river faces, and the problems a river gives to it's citizens. The film is chockful of amazing images, great narration and soaring music. My only problem with it is that it runs far too long. Pretty soon, your interest starts to wane when it starts talking about power and whatnot. But still, it's a pretty amazing download, and I will say it's reccomended.